I’m not sure where, but somewhere in the Catholic mass or the Gospels is found the phrase, ” to wait in joyful hope” for the coming of God’s kingdom on earth.
Now, I’m of the belief that we are supposed to be building his kingdom everyday, and we get a little closer every time Hitler is defeated or a child learns to walk or we save a whale. We are supposed to be Christ on earth after all [which, by the way, I’m pretty sure has nothing to do with picketing gay soldiers’ funerals or preventing teenagers from learning about contraception to keep them ignorant (not the same as innocent, and is sex really that sinful anyway).]
I’m not thinking of particularly heavenly ethereal things right now when I talk about waiting. I’m talking about waiting for the right person, for the right job, to fall asleep soundly at night. Waiting for the weekend, too. And spring break.
Some things are eventualities (like December 25! Christmas! woo!), though to be honest not a day in this life is guaranteed or owed to us. But most of the things we wait for are uncertain.
It’s not a simple yes or no whether they will come, or how, or if they will happen anything like you expected, or if they will bring you the happiness or pleasure you thought they would. I guess we’ll have to give those angels some discretion on what they bring down to us, as much as it seems hurtful and confusing when prayers aren’t answered as we like and hard work and elbow grease seemingly come to nothing, despite our best of intentions.
Most of the time we think of strength as pushing forward. Or even perseverance, which seems to imply motion however slow and steady.
But real strength, I believe, lies in being able to receive passively and patiently. Sure, you have to do the work, but ultimately you recognize the outcome is out of your hands. But you do the work anyway, and you wait and you hope.
That takes some serious muscle.
It’s like holding a yoga pose instead of lifting weights, or trying to resist a motion rather than pull or push.
When you think about it, this kind of passive strength is all around us.
The beams holding up your walls don’t move upwards, yet they hold the roof in place.
A woman doesn’t tell the zygote in her room how to grow, or take out some clay to make a baby, yet somehow, just by enduring, she makes one.
A windmill has no strength of its own, yet it can provide the power for your home.
Being able to stay still and calm takes the strength to move mountains, probably more. Faith can move mountains, if it will only wait for the mountain to move.
Sometimes waiting is short but intense. Asking someone to marry you seems like one of those moments, no matter how long awaited the proposal may have been.
When you are waiting for something, time goes in a direction instead of its natural cycle, and everything seems to take the longest it possibly could. Normally day turns to night and night turns to day, but when you are waiting, all you can think of is the hours, the minutes, the seconds passing, in our artificial construction of time.
It’s so so hard to stay present. it’s so much easier to think of the past of the future, in whatever good or bad way. It’s so hard to stop waiting and start living again.
But waiting is life, life is waiting for death, and when you are waiting for something, you remember how much there is to live for.